Category Archives: Church

Saturday Sampler: July 15 — July 21

Lollipop Sampler

Happy Tenth Facebook Anniversary, Stephen by Stephen McAlpine is funny. I  guarantee you’ll chuckle as you read the first several paragraphs. But his observations should sober us. And encourage us to use social media in ways that honor the Lord for as long as we can get away with it.

In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Clint Archer answers the question, Are there prophets today (in fewer than 500 words)? I could answer in one word. But Continue reading

“Woke” Or A Nightmare?

Three Little Angels

Who doesn’t want a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect regardless of ethnic background or gender?

And who denies that the United States of America has a track record of treating black people horribly and sexually abusing women? In some respects, the proponents of the “woke” movement address real issues that most white evangelicals pretty much ignore. On one level, we need reminders that real people have endured real suffering simply because of being black or female. Racism and misogyny exist.

So do reverse racism and male bashing. I’ve personally experienced one and practiced the other. These attitudes, just like racism and misogyny, offend the Lord as they wrongly elevate some people over others rather than emphasizing our common bond as believers in Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, interestingly, addresses the racial divisions between Jews and gentiles, teaches husbands and wives to embrace their gender roles and promotes attitudes of love, compassion and forgiveness among Christians. Paul’s first letter to Timothy, the pastor of the Ephesians, instructs us to observe gender distinctions in ministry, but makes no mention of ethnic differences between Jews and gentiles. Look at his plea to this beloved church:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~~Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)

Where is that humility in the “woke” movement? Frankly, all I’ve seen are demands that white evangelicals perform perpetual acts of repentance for the sins of our ancestors and a determination to jettison gender roles in both marriage and church life? I see anger and unforgiveness that threatens the very unity it purposes to advance.

Again, I agree that both racism and misogyny have polluted the visible church. But so have reverse racism and male bashing. All parties involved have their share of repentance to do. But the “woke” movement, by pointing fingers and denying that the Lord calls them to the same humility and repentance that they expect from others, only makes unity that much harder.

I don’t believe this animosity honors Christ.

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Beth Moore Heard God Speak — Dare We Question Her?

Out of Charismania

Having to skip church this past Sunday was wise, given the oppressive humidity and the breathing issues that John and I both have. But we certainly hated being separated from our church family! Besides missing the Lord’s Supper and a sermon on a passage that I don’t understand as well as I’d like, it was one of those rare Sundays when we’d sing everything from the infamous Green Hymnal.  Those who know me well know that I look forward to Green Hymnal Sundays. All that to say that I really struggled understanding God’s sovereignty in having us stay home.

But staying home gave me extra time, allowing me to listen to an Equipping Eve podcast. I found an old episode entitled What Happens When We See Beth Moore Teach the Bible? Since I’ve been blogging about Beth Moore lately, the topic intrigued me. While I never recommend skipping church unless it’s absolutely necessary, I recognized God’s providence in allotting time for me to listen to Erin Benziger’s podcast.

Erin touched on several troubling aspects of Beth Moore’s ministry, and I encourage women to listen to the podcast. One point, however, particularly caught my attention. Erin remarked that, in claiming to receive direct revelations from God, Beth Moore makes it impossible for anyone to question her teaching.

Although there are many things about Beth Moore’s teaching that in fact warrant a great deal of questioning, do you see how she circumvents any challenges with the simple statement that God spoke to her? Since she heard personally from Him, how can anyone cast doubt on what she teaches?

What a truly frightening implication!

Of course, Moore would probably deny that she claims these direct revelations as an attempt to guard against her critics. She may sincerely believe she hears directly from God, for all I know. Actually, she probably does. So I suspect it’s subconscious on her part that she uses her supposed revelations as a means of gaining control over her followers. The Lord has not given me permission to judge her motives.

Yet the fact remains that, whether deliberately or subconsciously, Beth Moore manipulates her followers by telling them that God spoke to her. The words, “God told me,” powerfully shut down any cross-examination. If God told her something, anyone daring to question her ultimately dares to question Him.

In considering whether or not the Lord has indeed given Beth Moore authority by virtue of her visions and personal revelations, we really should think about Scripture’s position on such matters.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ~~Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV)

We hold fast to the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, by clinging to Scripture. Therefore we reject any possibility of extrabiblical revelation, challenging people like Beth Moore who base their ministries on direct revelations supposedly from God. The very claims that false teachers use to establish their desired authority should cause us to run as far  away from them as we possibly can!

In evaluating the ministry of Beth Moore (or anyone who teaches), we must make sure that they consistently direct us back to Scripture, not to revelations that God supposedly gave them apart from Scripture.

John and I anticipate returning to church next Sunday. We’ll be singing contemporary hymns rather than hymns from the Green Hymnal. But that’s okay, because our pastor will preach from the Bible, not from any supposed revelation that God spoke directly to him. And that’s preaching I can trust.

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Segregated Women

3d383-ladies2bstudy2b03Yesterday I read a blog post by Lisa Robinson. Nothing particularly unusual about that; Lisa displays an excellent command of the English language and (more importantly) shows herself to love the Lord and have sound theology. But I disagreed with the way she defended Legacy, the special gathering for women of color at The Gospel Coalition’s women’s conference this year.

Lisa correctly pointed out that churches very often have various sub-groups such as Junior Church, Youth Group, Single’s Ministry and support groups for people in various types of addiction. And, while I see merit in separating men and women in certain circumstances, I question the wisdom of splintering believers into so many different factions.  Such segregation fragments the Body of Christ into special interest groups rather than encouraging it to unify around our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

I know some of you are scratching your heads, wondering whether I’m a blazing hypocrite or if dementia is setting in now that I’m mere months away from turning 65. You probably want to remind me of how vehemently I insist that the only men who should read my blog are my husband and the elders of First Baptist Church Weymouth. My parameters probably don’t make much sense, given that I don’t even write about women’s issues.

Okay, I’ve occasionally considered writing about menopause, just to discourage male readers. 🙂

I blog about matters that all Christians, regardless of gender (or anything else), need to understand. Nothing I write applies exclusively to women. Men could most likely learn from some of the things I discuss on this cute little spot of cyberspace. In fact, the men who ignore my pleas to close my blog in favor of blogs written by men indeed have learned things from my writing.

I have only one reason for trying to restrict my writing to women: obedience.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. ~~1 Timothy 2:12-14 (ESV)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

I realize that many people believe 1 Timothy 2:12-14 applies specifically to church settings, and they may well be correct. All the same, I prefer to err on the side of caution by confining The Outspoken TULIP to women. My policy is less about creating a separate group within the Body of Christ than about my responsibility to use my gift of teaching in a manner that honors Christ.

So, although Lisa Robinson made an understandable point, I believe breaking Christ’s Body into too many segments fosters unnecessary division. As Christians, let’s focus on our unity around sound doctrine that leads us to Christ.

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Saturday Sampler: May 20 — May 26

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Custom Tower & Old State House

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? What did you think of Bishop Curry’s sermon? Garrett Kell, in All Things for Good, asks a more accurate question with What Would Jesus Say About Bishop Curry’s Royal Wedding Sermon? I heartily agree.

Unbelievers sure love discounting the veracity of the Bible, don’t they? SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, writes Bible Contradiction? Did Jesus perform many signs and wonders? He has a running series responding to alleged contradictions in Scripture; this is the first installment I’ve read, and it’s an excellent example of why context matters.

The apostle Paul, says Jordan Standridge, was Obsessed with the Gospel. His piece, appearing in The Cripplegate, draws from Paul’s letter to the Philippians to challenge us in our response to persecution.

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Swan Boat at Boston’s Public Garden

The sister in Christ who blogs at Biblical  Beginnings takes on the popular false teaching associated with John 10:10 in her essay, Twisted Tuesday — The Abundant Life. I appreciate her encouragement to study God’s Word carefully and with discernment.

How could the doctrine of total depravity possibly encourage Christians?  In his post for Parking Space 23, Zach Putthoff answers that question. You might find yourself rejoicing as you read Total Depravity & the Christian Life.

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Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

I never expected to read The Master’s Seminary Blog, but The Wretched Art of Loveless Discernment by Reagan Rose caught my eye. His points convict me to continue discernment blogging, but to make sure I do so from right motives and with a godly attitude. Anyone interested in discernment ministry needs to take this article to heart.

Like Michelle Lesley, I belong to a church within the Southern Baptist Convention. And like her  church, the church I belong to has strong leanings toward Reformed Theology, for which I praise God! Yet, as I read about the denomination as a whole, I must agree with her that It’s Time for a Reformation in the SBC – 3 Issues We Need to Set Right.

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Massachusetts State House

Praise the Lord that Phil Johnson has revived Pyromaniacs, one of the blogs God used to bring me to Reformed Theology a decade ago. His post, The Root of the Matter, identifies the serious problems creeping into Reformed circles lately. Again, praise the Lord for Johnson’s faithfulness to stand against worldly compromise for the sake of the Gospel.

Photos of downtown Boston sites taken by John Kespert

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Saturday Sampler: May 13 — May 19

IMG_2187Andy Stanley continues to undermine the authority of Scripture, this time by teaching that Jesus and the apostles “unhitched” Christianity from the Old Testament. David Prince of Prince on Preaching refutes this ridiculous notion by writing A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let man not separate.

For a more subtle response to Andy Stanley, wander over to The Cripplegate  to read Clint Archer’s post, Why Preach the Older Testament? Without mentioning Stanley directly, Archer clarifies why neither Testament should be “unhitched” from the other.

To demonstrate that Obedience Is Better than Sacrifice, Michelle Lesley draws from two instances in the life of King Saul to illustrate how churches in the 21st Century can disobey God even while thinking they worship Him. She makes a point worth considering.

Now I understand why the standard evangelical quip about God giving second chances rubs me the wrong way. Scott Slayton of One Degree To Another argues that God Doesn’t Give Second Chances by appealing to the Gospel and to God’s grace.

Refering to a Spurgeon quote that he saw on Twitter, Denny Burk has A word about criticism from anonymous sources that applies well in this age of social media. I’d been considering changing the name on my Twitter account from DebbieLynne Kespert to The Outspoken TULIP. Although The Outspoken TULIP is linked to my name, Burk’s article leads me to keep my real name, lest anyone think I’m leveling anonymous criticism when I confront worldly ideas.

I like Eric Davis’ post, Should I Stay Home from Church When Life Gets Hard? in The Cripplegate. It addresses the latest notion that emotional pain excuses people from corporate worship. It also admonishes pastors and elders to order church services around the Lord, explaining how doing so effectively ministers to all members of Christ’s body.

Leslie A admits it. It’s Not Just a Book! probably won’t be her most popular article on Growing 4 Life. But I agree with her that it’s probably one of the most important things she’s ever written. Therefore it saddens me that it won’t be popular.

Adding to my article on journaling (which I published Wednesday), Elizabeth Prata shares Thoughts on introspection and journaling in The End Time. She brings interesting insight into the discussion, causing me to wonder if more needs to be written about this topic.

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Why I Don’t Skip Church On Mother’s Day

Rose PaintingMother’s Day is one of the most emotionally difficult days for a variety of women. Christian women in particular have a rough time sitting through sermons on the virtues of motherhood when they struggle with infertility, when they’ve lost a child, or when they have a strained relationship with their mother.

This past weekend, some well-known evangelical teachers encouraged hurting women to stay home from church on Mother’s Day. I appreciate their sensitivity to women who have trouble with the holiday, but I question whether or not their counsel really reflects a Christlike attitude.

One friend of mine miscarried just a few days before Mother’s Day one year. Another friend lost her mom to a terminal illness the day before Mother’s Day a few years back. Although both ladies courageously attended church after their losses, other friends of mine simply found the thought of enduring a Mother’s Day service unbearable.

In one respect, I understand the desire to avoid church on Mother’s Day. Despite the wonderful fact that our current pastor doesn’t break from expositing Luke’s gospel to deliver a sermon extolling motherhood, I realize well-meaning people will wish me Happy Mother’s Day and tell me I’m a spiritual mother (to whom, they never quite say). With both my mom and my mother-in-law now dead, the whole day is just awkward.

I also identity with women who find Mother’s Day painful as I remember avoiding weddings early in my battle with singleness (I didn’t marry John until I was almost 49). For a couple years in my mid-twenties, I’d explain to my girlfriends that attending their weddings would just be too crushing for me.

Usually my girlfriends accepted my decision without complaint. Finally, however, one had the guts to confront me with my selfishness. She wept with me over my romantic disappointment, but now she very much wanted me to rejoice with her. The man who had broken my heart would also be there, she admitted, but having me there meant a lot to her.

I went. I saw the man who had broken my heart,  but then I actually enjoyed myself! More importantly, I showed my girlfriend love by putting her needs before my own. In subsequent years I asked other friends to forgive me for selfishly refusing to attend their weddings.

I don’t deny that attending church on Mother’s Day causes some women immense emotional pain. I sat with the girlfriend who miscarried only days earlier, and could physically feel her heartache. I’ve sympathized with infertile friends who chose to stay home rather than watch a baby dedication and hear a Mother’s Day sermon.

But as gently as possible, I encourage women who have difficulty with Mother’s Day to set aside their own sorrow in order to rejoice with their sisters in church. Yes, it means laying down your life for your friends. It means imitating Jesus.

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